Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 235
The Mimic Men by V. S. Naipaul is a novel about personal and cultural identity in mid-twentieth-century British society. The protagonist, a man of Indian-descent, first takes on the role of a person in high-society. Despite his social standing in the colonial island, he still feels discontent and empty. In this regard, Naipaul was able to weave existentialist elements—such as critiques on the modern man's yearning for a purpose—with perspectives of asians and blacks living in British territories.
The geographical settings in the novel are also metaphors for Singh's existentialist point-of-view. The island of Isabella encapsulates his feelings of loneliness, alienation, and rootlessness.
Singh's relationship with his father also reflects his yearning to become something more than just a normal man. His father tried to lead the black community in the island towards spiritual enlightenment through his teachings, which shows a desire for attaining Utopian ideals. In a sense, the island represents the Garden of Eden, or the wilderness of British society that could have been turned into a paradise, but is disrupted by human flaws, or traits, and worldly desires.
Even Singh's downfall shows that he still desired to become a great man. With the help of his friend, Singh took a senior role in the island's socialist government. However, his ideas for creating a better society, like his father, ended in failure, and eventually led to his exile from the island.
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